Over 220 students graduated from the 12th convocation at the Tain, University of Guyana (UG), Berbice Campus last Saturday.
A Government Information Agency (GINA) release said that Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr Frank Anthony, addressing the gathering, observed that since the start of the campus, there has been growth in the physical infrastructure, student population, staff and the range and quality of education offered.
He said that the growth did not come without challenges, but noted that the challenges had not overwhelmed the campus. Highlighting the importance of the campus, Minister Anthony emphasised that it represented one of the government’s primary mandates of making tertiary education accessible and affordable.
The minister highlighted that the government recognised that development could only be sustained if investments were made in the people. “The late Cheddi Jagan had a mantra, that we must have development with a human face – meaning that we must consistently and continuously invest in our people and our people reciprocally, must use their knowledge and skills for development; this has been a guiding principle of the PPP government,” he said.
The minister gave a history of the origin of the university which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. He explained that when the concept of a tertiary education institution was first introduced, many felt that it was too ambitious, and that a small colony like British Guiana should be shackled to external universities that were devoid of cultural particularities, that adumbrated paradigms of development that were alien to Guiana’s local needs.
GINA said that Minister Anthony noted that the critics had refused to recognise that education by the external institutions was teaching the people to stay subservient to and to perpetuate the policies of the colonial empire. He added that Dr Jagan had always advocated for a better and equitable education system.
With independence on the horizon, he said that the time had come for British Guiana to have its own university which would help to mould the new Guyanese man and woman.
According to the minister, “A Guyanese who understands the rights and wrongs of his/her history, would work to forge better relationships between its people, who understand the inequities within our inherited society, and who would work to better the governance systems, strengthen the public education systems at all levels, create more accessible health care and to open up economic opportunities for all.”
He said that the then PPP government passed the University of Guiana Ordinance in the senate on the March 18, 1963 and then in the Legislative Council on April 9, 1963, bringing into effect the legislative framework for the establishment of the University of Guyana.
Anthony related that in October 1963, the first 164 students started their classes at Queen’s College. At that time, he said, the skeptics used a derogatory epithet, the “Jagan Night School,” to label the institution instead of the University of Guyana.
“Today, you graduate from an institution that has a proud history, that has withstood the scorn of the critics at its conception, and has now grown to be the main provider of tertiary education in Guyana,” Minister Anthony said.
According to GINA, the minister pointed out that the graduating class was joining more than 15,000 managers, scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, agriculturalists and educators who lead and manage various national and international organisations to make the country and the world, a better place. He urged the graduands to carry with them the philosophy of the founding fathers.
Minister Anthony concluded by lauding the lecturers and other staff for their efforts, often working beyond the call of duty. He also applauded the parents for supporting and encouraging their children while they were at the institution.